“There is no excuse to not win the top medal,” said Coach Francis Vicente, referring to the upcoming Micronesian Games. Francis arrived in Majuro last month to take up coaching of the RMI women’s volleyball team, a post he held for the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap, guiding the RMI team to the silver medal, its best-ever finish.
He has over 30 years in the game. Vicente began working with Coach August Saint Maria as a volunteer assistant coach for volleyball from 1991 to 1993 before being awarded a full-time position in his home, the Philippines.
Vicente was named head coach of the University of Santo Tomas High School girls’ team, who under his leadership won four consecutive junior championships of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
In the UAAP’s 2012–13 seasons, he served as a coach for the National University women’s team, helping them reach the Final Four.
He has been coaching for 25 years, and he’s coached various teams including the Philippine’s national team.
“Coaching is passion, it became part of my life,” said Francis. “I wanted to help young kids to have a future.” He has helped many players with learning to play volleyball at a high level.
Last Micronesian Games, Francis helped the Marshall Islands volleyball team make history when they won silver and defeated Team Guam with just a month and a half of training.
“If there’s one year (to prepare), there’s no excuse — it’s a must to win because you got silver already, there’s no going down,” he told the Journal. “That’s how positive I am, how motivated I am.”
“We are fortunate to have coach Francis here,” said Assistant Coach Kevin Harkey, who works with the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee.
“When I’m here, I mean business,” said Francis. “I’m not here to have a vacation, I don’t go out, I just stay at home.” He added. “I do an analysis on everyone and the next day the analysis will be there and then I apply it to the player.”
“One of the things he always preached to our players is he doesn’t like wasting time,” said Assistant Coach Pranson Eliou, who runs the Public School System’s Sports and Extracurricular Program (SEP). “We’ve been with him couple months before the Micro Games (in 2018) and the now we will be with him for the next couple months and he always emphasized to our players that he doesn’t waste time and he doesn’t want the players to waste his time. That’s how serious he is.”
“That’s how strict I am, I might be joking but don’t waste my time,” said Francis.
“As a result in a month and a half, we came back with silver,” said Pranson.
“When you’re playing in the championship, it’s very different, training for one and a half month the aspect on the psychology, we were not able to do so much,” Francis said. “Because of the maturity of the players, it became positive. They themselves wanted to win and they believed in themselves, that’s the reason why they won silver,” he said.
Francis told his players they should be proud compared to their opponents; they had more experience in terms of playing outside their country.
“But still you got silver, that is something to be proud of and they made history,” he said.